Guyana surrenders 2017 title to Barbados ending 12-year reign

- Cheeks and Alphonso thrill home crowd on final day

The number 13 is usually associated with bad fortune in the world of sports and Guyana’s junior squash team were the latest group of athletes to be on the receiving end of that truth after they surrendered the 2017 junior Caribbean championship to arch rivals Barbados at the Georgetown Club, yesterday, preventing the hosts from capturing their 13th consecutive championship.

The Barbadians, on their way to capturing their 2017 title, were vociferous during their chants -“Big up a team like Barbados”- at the end of every match won.

They went on to inflict a 5-0 hammering of the hosts in the girls’ matchup where Makeda Harding, Rebecca Low, Taylor Fernandes all suffered defeats which preceded the downing of Abosaide Cadogan and Kirstein Gomes.

Guyana junior squash team with their runners-up trophy after surrendering the 2017 overall teams championship to Barbados to end their 12-year run as champions (Royston Alkins Photo)

Things got even gloomier for the hosta, when the local boys lost 1-4 to the Barbadians with Shomari Wiltshire, as expected, easing past Darien Benn in straight sets to end his 2017 campaign on a high and being the exception.

It was Alexander Cheeks and Michael Alphonso, however, who kept the home crowd cock-a-hoop by playing relentlessly on the final day.

Cheeks and Reginald Brewster had put on a display which kept supporters from both countries on the edge of their seats during the nail-biting contest.

Brewster took the first two sets 11-5 and 11-7 after which Cheeks struck back by winning the third and fourth 13-11 and 11-6. The final set, however, went to the Barbadian 11-6 as emotions erupted from both sides of the spectrum, with Barbados smiling and Guyana hurting.

Alphonso, on the other hand, lost his match to Alex Stewart in four sets during which the little maestro showed eye-catching glimpses of what is to come in his career.

Meanwhile, the Barbados coach Rhett Cumberbatch, who has been through the topsy-turvy moments with his team during Guyana’s more than decade-long reign, credited his team’s focus and travels abroad for the success.

“We trained and worked hard, heading into this competition and I asked my kids, knowing that Guyana are our rivals, to not worry too much about them,” Cumberbatch told Stabroek Sport.

He added, “What we actually do is, we take them outside to experience the intentional scene to Canada, the U.S, and Europe because we believe that once you put in the work it will pay off and that is why we came out on top today.”

The Cayman Islands rounded up the podium slot by finishing behind Barbados and Guyana in the overall standings.

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